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Croatia: Premier Calls On Fugitive General To Surrender

Zagreb, 21 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan today called on fugitive General Mirko Norac to surrender to Croatian judicial authorities. The appeal was issued following a decision by the UN war crimes tribunal not to prosecute the retired general. Norac has been on the run for the last two weeks, since a Croatian court said it was investigating his alleged role in the 1991 killing of Serbian civilians in the city of Gospic.

Racan said on state television that the UN tribunal's decision not to prosecute Norac showed international confidence in the Croatian justice system.

If convicted, Norac could face up to 20 years in jail. Croatian President Stipe Mesic today reiterated that his country will fully cooperate with the UN war crimes tribunal, despite recent protests sparked by an investigation against Norac.

Mesic said war crimes suspects will stand trial, "either in Croatia or in The Hague." He blamed the recent protests on the "(political) right and those who lost the elections."

Supporters of Mesic's predecessor, the late President Franjo Tudjman, insist that Croatia abandon war crimes probes involving veterans of the 1991 war of independence. Veterans from the war and nationalists consider Norac a national hero.